So my agent called me the other day and said she’s putting me up for the newest James Bond movie and would I come up with a “take” so I can go in and pitch. Of course I said sure, because if there’s one thing I know, it’s James Bond movies. I’ve been watching them since I’m a kid, caught up with all the old ones on Netflix, and actually have a friend who’s a friend of the guy who wrote three of the best of them, which by Hollywood’s way of measuring these things means that I practically wrote them myself.
Coming up with a “take” is what we highly paid writers do out here, which translated into layman’s speak means we work for free until the studio, against its better judgment, decides to actually hire us, and even though we’re not supposed to do this, we do it anyway because beggars can’t be choosers, and when you’re a writer out here, oh brother are you ever a beggar.
So I thought about it for five minutes and came up with my take, which I’m now going to test on you before I go over to wherever the ghost of MGM is located these days and pitch it to some fresh-faced young executive who’s never even heard of Roger Moore, much less Ian Fleming. I’m calling it For Four Eyes Only: This Time, It’s Personal.
Every Bond film has a killer pre-titles sequence, an exciting but plot-wise irrelevant four or five minutes’ worth of nonstop action. Then come the titles, complete with catchy song, then comes the movie proper: Bond gets the assignment from M, heads off to some exotic locale, beds a bird or two or six, gets into some seriously life-threatening hot water, turns the tables, kills the villain, conquers the leading lady, and we go out on a trademark Bond quip, preferably a sexual double entendre. That’s it!
Exciting Pre-Titles Action Sequence We open in Washington, D.C., where a lame-duck president of the United States has just received some very bad news. It seems that the entire U.S. economy has collapsed overnight, the stock market is plunging, houses are worth less than a loaf of bread, except in Los Angeles, where every house still costs at least a million bucks, and the Mexican peso is laughing at the dollar. Condition red!
The president, a hapless idiot I’m calling George Walker, is in a swivet. Looking like he’s making a hostage video, he goes into the Rose Garden, stares into the cameras and says that, effective immediately, he’s transferring the sum of one billion dollars to a shadowy European financier who’s threatening to destabilize the planet with “fundamental change.” The president is interrupted by a snickering press corps. He looks down at the notes he’s written on the palm of his left hand, then corrects himself. The sum of one trillion dollars, payable in cash, securities, supersaver coupons, and cereal box tops before sundown, or else . . . as we CUT TO —
James Bond (Haley Joel Osment), lying on Rehoboth Beach, a lovely on each arm. His next-generation PDA, which he’s cleverly hidden in his swim trunks, starts vibrating. “Why, James,” asks one of the beach bunnies, “are you getting a call or are you just glad to see us?”
Bond leaps into action, then a bunch of cool stuff happens and somehow in a flash he’s grappling with a horde of ninja assassins in San Francisco, all of whom he kills in the most imaginative ways possible, which I’ll have to think of later. He enters a room from which an ominous, Central European–accented voice has been heard calling him “Meester Bondt,” but when he breaks through the Krell-steel doors, there’s nothing there but a pair of reading glasses, a tuft of white cat fur, and some old French newspaper clippings about an obscure insider trading scandal . . .